Today in the Alps - December 2017
Updated: 9am Saturday 16 December 2017 – Further flurries for northern Alps
It’s another cold day in the Alps, with further flurries across the north while the south stays mostly dry with good sunny spells.
Today’s flurries will affect the northern French Alps (e.g. Portes du Soleil), the northern Swiss Alps (e.g. Wengen, Engelberg, Flumserberg), and the northern and western Austrian Alps (e.g. St Anton). Snowfall totals over the next 24 hours in these regions are expected to be in the range of 10-30cm.
The further south you are in the Alps, however, the less snow there will be. The southern Alps will see plenty of sunshine, especially away from the border areas.
Updated: 10.45am Friday 15 December 2017 - Yet more snow for the northern and western Alps!
A lot of snow has fallen AGAIN across the north-western Alps, especially the northern French Alps (e.g. Val d’Isère, Avoriaz), the northern Swiss Alps (e.g. Wengen, Engelberg), and western Austria (e.g. Lech, St Anton).
These regions have seen another 25-50cm of new snow in the last 24 hours alone, with as much as 60cm recorded in some north-eastern parts of the Swiss Alps (e.g. Flumserberg). Generally speaking, the eastern and southern Alps have seen less snow, with some places missing out altogether.
Not surprisingly, we can safely conclude that snow conditions in the Alps are excellent for mid-December, even exceptional in some areas, especially across the northern and western Alps including most of France, Switzerland and western Austria. Overall, Italy now has the least snow (on average) but it’s all relative and the skiing is also mostly still excellent.
Updated: 10am Thursday 14 December 2017 - Yet more snow, mostly in the north-western Alps
The weather in the Alps remains unsettled, with further snow (and some rain) mostly affecting the north-western Alps today.
By the north-western Alps we mean the French Alps roughly north of Alpe d’Huez, through Switzerland (away from the far south – i.e. away from Ticino and Engadin) and western Austria (e.g. Arlberg). These areas will see occasional precipitation today, which will become heavier and more organised from the west this evening as a cold front moves through. The rain/snow limit will sit at around 900-1300m for most of the day before lowering to 600-800m tonight.
By this time tomorrow, there is likely to have been between 20cm and 40cm of new snow above 1500m across resorts such as Courchevel, Flaine, Avoriaz, Verbier, Wengen, Engelberg, Lech and St Anton. The southern and eastern Alps will see less snow, with some places missing out altogether.
Over the next few days there will be further snowfall across parts of the Alps, always favouring the north-west but extending further east to reach most of Austria too (away from the far south). The southern Alps will miss most of the action again, though bits and pieces will get through, especially into the north-western Aosta (e.g. Courmayeur, La Thuile) today and tomorrow.
Snow conditions are now above average for mid-December across most of the Alps, especially in the west, though France has now overtaken Austria as having the best overall snow. Find out more in our detailed snow report published later today…
Updated: 9.45am Wednesday 13 December 2017 – The Alps just keep on giving!
It’s a cold and sunny morning with superb snow conditions across much of the Alps, even if some of the top lifts remain closed due to wind and the huge amount of snow that has fallen in the last few days.
As the day progresses the next storm will begin to make its presence felt across the western Alps, with snow reaching much of the French Alps (away from the far south) and the western Swiss Alps (e.g. Verbier) by this evening, and continuing to move further east overnight. The rain/snow limit will start low but rise to between 900m and 1400m overnight.
Over the next few days it will remain unsettled with further precipiation at times, always heaviest in the north-western Alps – that is to say roughly north of an imaginary line drawn between Grenoble in France and Innsbruck in Austria. Generally speaking, the southern Alps will see less snow, except perhaps for the Dolomites and the far south of Austria where a more significant fall is likely on Friday. The rain/snow limit will start around 900-1400m this week, but will fall to very low levels again towards the weekend.
Between now and Sunday we can expect another 30-60cm of new snow quite widely across these north-western parts of the Alps (e.g. Courchevel, Flaine, Avoriaz, Verbier, Mürren, Engelberg, Lech) with up to 1m of additional snow in a few favoured spots!
Generally speaking snow conditions are excellent for mid-December with most of the weak spots now ironed out. Indeed one of the areas of concern, the southern French Alps, have seen particularly huge snowfalls over the last few days with 1.5m of new snow or more in places (e.g. Parc national des Écrins).
Updated: 9.40am Monday 11 December 2017 – Wild!
The weather situation in the Alps remains extremely complex today, with huge variations in both temperature and precipitation depending on where you are and when.
Over the weekend we saw lots of snow in places especially in the French and western Swiss Alps (e.g. Val d’Isère, Val Thorens, Verbier) but also in some of those (relatively) snow starved parts of the Italian Alps (e.g. Cervinia, Monte Rosa) that were crying out for a big dump.
This morning the entire Alps are now in the warm sector of a major storm. A strong south-westerly airflow means that heavy precipitation is affecting much of the southern Alps, especially Italy, but also parts of the southern and western French Alps, southern Swiss Alps and southern Austrian Alps.
Meanwhile on the northern side of the Alps, especially in the north-east (Austria), there will be a violent Foehn wind with gusts reaching 150kph or more in places. It may be drier here but expect widespread lift closures in any area with a bit of altitude. The Austrian glaciers, for example, are highly unlikely to offer any skiing today.
As the day progresses, a cold front will introduce a new area of precipitation to the western Alps moving slowly east later. The rain/snow limit in the western Alps (e.g. Avoriaz, Alpe d’Huez) will start around 2000m but drop towards 1000m this evening. In the southern Alps (e.g. Serre Chevalier, Livigno, Madonna di Campiglio) the rain/snow limit will be between 1500m and 2000m.
To sum things up:
- There will be a lot of snow at altitude in the southern and western Alps today.
- The northern and especially north-eastern Alps will be exceptionally windy.
- It will start mild everywhere but become colder from the west later in the day.
- It will not be great weather day to be hitting the slopes with lots of lift closures at altitude.
Updated: 9.50am Sunday 10 December 2017 - Major storm affecting western Alps today
A major new storm is affecting the western Alps today bringing serious snowfall to much of the French Alps, the south-western Swiss Alps and parts of the western Italian Alps.
We can expect between 30cm and 60cm of snow (above 1800m) across most of these regions today, and more still in some favoured spots. The rain/snow limit initially started very low, and will remain low for a time in some of the more internal valleys, but will rise to 1200-1500m then perhaps 1800m in more exposed western parts of the Alps later in the day.
Resorts that will see a lot of snow today include Val d’Isère/Tignes, Les 2 Alpes, La Thuile, Cervinia and Zermatt. The eastern Alps (e.g. Austria) will see little or no snow, with mild and Foehny conditions in the north and north-east (e.g. Salzburgland).
On Monday the heaviest snow will be focussed more across the central southern Alps (e.g. St Moritz, Livigno, Passo Tonale and Madonna di Campiglio). These regions could see 40-70cm of new snow at altitude tomorrow alone.
Other parts of the Alps will also see some precipitation but, generally speaking, it will be lighter and patchier the further north and east you are. It will also be mild for a time, with some rain in the mix below 1800m, especially in the northern half of the Alps. Later tomorrow temperatures and snow levels will begin to fall again.
It will continue unsettled for the rest of the week with further snow for many at times.
Updated: 10am Friday 8 December 2017 – It’s going to be a rollercoaster ride in the Alps over the next few days!
The weather situation in the Alps has become extremely complicated. There will be a lot of snow over the next few days, but also some rain, thanks to the increasingly southerly nature of the wind flow later on Sunday/Monday, something that has only really crept into the forecasts over the last couple of days.
Today there is showery precipitation across many northern parts of the Alps, heaviest in the north-west (e.g. Avoriaz, Verbier, Engelberg and across towards the Arlberg). These regions should see between 20-40cm of new snow above 1500m, with a rain/snow limit descending to very low levels as the day progresses. The further south and east you go, the lighter and patchier any precipitation will be, at least with this first storm.
Saturday will be cold with a few residual snow flurries across the northern Alps and plenty of sun further south. Then on Sunday we await the arrival of a much bigger storm from the west. This is the complicated one, as it will bring with it a warm sector that will temporarily raise freezing levels to above 2000m.
This storm will deliver serious quantities of snow to the western and southern Alps later on Sunday and on Monday, but also some rain for a time lower down. The areas in line for the most precipitation are the French Alps, especially the south (e.g. Serre Chevalier), the Italian Alps (e.g. Courmayeur, Livigno), the southern Swiss Alps (e.g. St Moritz) and the southern Austrian Alps (e.g. Nassfeld.
This is excellent news for those areas that still haven’t seen much snow this winter, namely the Aosta valley (e.g. Courmayeur), Lombardy (e.g. Madesimo) and parts of the southern French Alps (e.g. Serre Chevalier). The fine details keep changing but these areas could see anywhere between 50cm and 100cm of new snow above 2000m between Sunday and Tuesday. By contrast, some low resorts, especially those across the northern Alps will suffer something of a thaw early next week, albeit only temporary. Stay tuned!
Updated: 9.40am Thursday 7 December 2017 – Major change in the weather imminent
There will be another fine day in the Alps today, but it’s all change tomorrow, with a spell of much more unsettled weather on the cards for the foreseeable future.
Today will be mostly sunny with just a few high clouds arriving in the north-west later. It will also be quite mild, with freezing levels typically close to or just below 2000m. It will then turn much colder on Friday and Saturday, briefly milder late on Sunday/Monday, then probably cold again for the rest of next week.
In the first instance the heaviest snow will be reserved for the north-western Alps – i.e. the northern French Alps roughly north of Grenoble, much of Switzerland (away from the far south) and western Austria. However on Sunday and Monday, the western Alps generally seem to be in the firing line. This is important, as it means significant snow for those areas that currently have the least – in particular the Aosta valley (e.g. Cervinia, Champoluc) and parts of the southern French Alps (e.g. Serre Chevalier).
In the meantime, anyone out and about in the Alps today should make the most of the fine weather. By contrast, anyone heading to the slopes this weekend or next week should prepare for some “proper” winter weather, which means reduced visibility at times, wind and the risk of lift closures.
If you are lucky enough to be in a resort with trees, make the most of them. Whatever the case, wrap up warm and don’t venture off-piste unless you fully understand the risks or are with an experienced guide – preferably both!
Updated: 10am Wednesday 6 December 2017 - A couple of mild days then winter returns!
High pressure is currently in charge of the weather in the Alps. There is some low level cloud in places today but at altitude it is sunny more or less everywhere, with freezing levels expected to be close to 2000m.
It will continue mostly fine again on Thursday with the highest temperatures on the northern side of the Alps, due to a light Foehn effect. However, the weather will change radically on Friday with the arrival of a cold front from the north-west. This front will bring snow to many places, heaviest in the north-western Alps (roughly to the north-west of a line drawn between Grenoble in France and Landeck in Austria). The further south and east you are of this line, the lighter and patchier any snow will be, except perhaps for the eastern Dolomites (e.g. Cortina) that may also catch a substantial fall.
The weather in the Alps will remain cold and unsettled over the weekend and into next week, with further snow for many.
In the meantime, snow conditions remain good for early December across most of the Alps though not, as yet, exceptional as some are making out. Resorts that have got off to a particularly good start this year include Engelberg, where settled snow depths are 40/305cm depending on altitude, Warth-Schröcken (90/105cm), and Obertauern (120/150cm), but there are many more besides.
By contrast, more snow is still needed in the Aosta valley (e.g. Cervinia), parts of Lombardy (e.g. Madesimo) and parts of the southern French Alps. These areas can still offer reasonable piste skiing (where they choose to be open) but artificial snow is still a major factor.
Updated: 10.25am Tuesday 5 December 2017 - Becoming mostly fine and milder for a time
There are still some snow showers (500-700m) in the eastern Austrian Alps this morning (e.g. Schladming, Obertauern) however, these will gradually die out later. Elsewhere in the Alps it is mostly fine and quite a bit milder, at altitude at least.
It will remain mostly fine on Wednesday and Thursday and become even milder (most noticeable at altitude) before winter returns on Friday. Between Friday and Sunday we are expecting a lot of snow across the north-western Alps, especially the northern French Alps (e.g. 3 Valleys, Flaine, Chamonix, Portes du Soleil).
Much of the Swiss Alps, away from the far south (e.g. Verbier, Wengen, Engelberg), will also see some significant snow as well as western Austria (e.g. St Anton). However, as a general rule, the further south and east you go the less snow you will see this weekend.
In the meantime, snow conditions are already very favourable for early December across most of the Alps. The main exceptions remain parts of the southern French Alps (e.g. Orcières), the Aosta valley (e.g. Cervinia, Champoluc) and western Lombardy (e.g. Madesimo). These regions can still offer some reasonable piste skiing but snow cover remains thin, and artificial help is more or less essential.
Updated: 10.50am Monday 4 December 2017 – Snow transfers to north-eastern Alps
It’s snowing again across some eastern parts of the Alps today, mostly in Austria and heaviest to the east of Innsbruck, where 5-20cm of new snow is expected.
Except for a few flurries in the eastern Swiss Alps, most other areas will be dry with the best of the sunshine the further south and west you are. Tomorrow will see further light snow for some north-eastern parts of the Alps (e.g. Salzburgland) otherwise most areas will again be fine. Sunny weather is expected right across the Alps on Wednesday.
The next significant snow in the Alps will be later on Thursday and Friday with the heaviest falls due in the northern French Alps, Switzerland (away from the far south) and western Austria.
In the meantime, snow conditions in the Alps remain excellent for early December in most places. The main exceptions are some parts of the Aosta valley (e.g. Cervinia), western Lombardy (e.g. Madesimo) and parts of the southern French Alps away from the Italian border, although some decent skiing is still possible in these regions on a mixture of natural and man-made snow.
Updated: 9.35am Sunday 3 December 2017 - Great early season snow conditions continue for most
The weather in the Alps remains changeable. Today will be mostly dry and cold with just a few flurries moving into the far north-eastern Alps later.
Monday and Tuesday will see more prolonged snow showers across parts of the eastern Alps, heaviest to the east of Innsbruck. Most other parts of the Alps will be fine and increasingly mild, at least at altitude. The next significant widespread snow is due on Thursday and Friday when a major winter storm will roll in from the north-west.
In the meantime, snow conditions remain excellent for early December across most parts of the Alps, the main exceptions being parts of the southern French Alps and the Aosta valley. These regions are still able to offer some skiing but snow cover remains thin and artificial help is very much on the agenda.
Updated: 8.30am Saturday 2 December 2017 - Snow shifts to south-western Alps
After the northern Alps bagging most of the snow showers in recent days, today it is the south-western Alps that are seeing all the action, with heavy snow in the southern Piedmont and parts of the southern French Alps, particularly the Alpes Maritimes.
Resorts benefiting from today’s heavy but relatively localised snowfall include Sauze d’Oulx, Sestriere, Prali, Bardonecchia, Prato Nevoso, Limone, Isola 2000 and the resorts of the Queyras. A little snow could also spill over the French border further north into resorts such as Bonneval sur Arc, Val Cenis and even Val d’Isère. Elsewhere in the Alps it will be mostly dry with the best of any sunshine the further north-east you are (i.e. Austria).
Snow conditions in the Alps are generally excellent for early December. The main exceptions being the Aosta valley in north-western Italy and parts of the southern French Alps though, even here, many resorts are working hard with the snow cannons.
A couple of areas that deserve a mention today are the Jura (north of Geneva) and the Vercors (west of Grenoble). Both of these areas are low - most of the skiing in the Jura is between 800m and 1500m - but have seen really big dumps in the last two to three days (40-80cm), which should set them up nicely in the run up to Christmas.
Back in the Alps, dozens more resorts have just opened or will be opening this weekend, perhaps the most significant among these being those of the Arlberg (St Anton, Lech, Warth etc.) which opened yesterday with fabulous early season snow conditions.
Looking a bit further ahead, it will turn milder in the Alps for a time next week. It won’t last long, however, as a very potent storm is expected to move down from the north-west on Thursday/Friday, bringing with it further significant snowfalls. Watch this space…